Update from India
Some notable experience thus far:- Meeting one of the oldest tribes in India and helping fit them with eyeglasses. - Riding a motorcycle through monsoon rain. - Being accosted by husky-voiced hermaphrodites on the trains. - Riding on India's iconic trains period. Every ride is like a field trip into bedlam. - Teaching English to orphan children (call it damage control after the less-than-perfect methods of the local English medium schools.) - Being stopped in marketplaces all over India by locals who wanted to get a picture with the visiting American. My complexion makes me a novelty. - Arriving just in time for the end of mango season. Delicious fruit in the markets for less than a dollar per kilo (usually 10 fruit per kilo!) - Driving over roads that would give Wolverine scoliosis during my trips to outlying villages. - Inadvertently eating an entire dried naga viper chili in one bite. I mistook it for the milder king chili, but I maintain that my tears at the dinner table were shed with manly stoicism.
Throughout the entire trip, I have been in and among some of the poorest, most backwards villages and communities I could never have imagined. The poverty and the squalor that so many people know as "normal" in some areas of the country is unbelievable. The ministry opportunities never end.
Even so, India never ceases to amaze me with its diversity. After the first half of the trip was spent giving aid to people who lived in utter depravity (in every sense of the word,) my journey took me across the subcontinent to visit a school in an area of India that is not only cosmopolitan, but extremely, one might say "comfortably" Western in its local culture. It's like benign in a totally different country, and it brings up feelings not unlike the verse culture shock I had the last time I returned home from India. Stepping off of the plane into Houston airport last time was like time traveling to the future. India, steeped in poverty on one hand and pop culture from the Reagan era on the other, was suddenly on the other side of the world, and I felt strangely alien to my home. To have similar feelings while still in India itself is very disconcerting.
This will likely be my last blog update for a couple of weeks. I begin my northward train ride to a new location tomorrow to return to village work with my next local contact. It's full steam ahead for the next few weeks, and I probably won't have wifi again until I fly to London, where I will decompress from India by spending some time with a few friends in the area before going the rest of the way home.